Help if you want, he said, and so we set about
clearing the path of snow from door to road
before the sky, already gravid, a grey clout,
took umbrage and dumped another load
on us. He shouldered it like a gun,
like a man going to war, his favourite spade,
the one with the shit-off-a-shovel shine
to the blade, solid as himself, the shaft
and handle both made of seasoned pine.
Sometimes just looking is enough to know the weight
of a thing, to know and feel its heft,
form and function dovetailed into perfect fit.
Outside the door he stopped to let
a minute pass, to weigh it up, he said, the task
at hand. Only then did he take the spade, lift it
and bring it down, slicing through the jewelled casket
of frozen snow, not digging so much as delving,
the blade disappearing with each brisk
cut until a block was ready to be levered out. Following
suit, I picked up my spade and tried the same,
only to come to grief at first, not realising
what a burden of weight a spadeful can be, even of dreams,
what it is to move sleep from here to there --- no,
slumber, which we piled against a wall until the thaw.